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Letter: Support the outdoors, but not the conservation amendment

Here we go again. The last constitutional conservation measure heading for the statewide ballots failed because of fraudulent signatures. Now conservation groups are working to get a similar measure back on the ballot; however, it is no less of a fraud.

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The Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment would allocate five percent of the oil extraction taxes to a new fund. This may sound like a small amount, only 5 percent, but conservative estimates total this at $300 million per biennium that will go directly to conservation groups as a constitutional earmark.

This amendment also bypasses the citizen Legislature and sets a dangerous precedence for groups that will follow suit in creating ballot amendments to secure funding. Many other special interest groups work very hard with elected officials during the legislative session to secure fair levels of funding. It should be the same for the groups supporting this amendment. They should not be allowed to skip the legislative process and take this amount of money off the table.

We all support protecting North Dakota’s outdoors, wildlife and heritage. But when petition gatherers approach citizens regarding this amendment, it is important individuals know what they are signing. It appears to be too much effort for this group to work with the Legislature and a broad coalition of supporters that came together to support conservation during the last session. The amount of money they are seeking will surely take much needed resources away from other areas of the state.

I support preserving our state’s outdoors, but I cannot support this amendment.

Steve Brooks Bowman